Suspense and jump scares are perhaps the most commonly found ingredients in today's indie horror games. If we look at Five Nights at Freddy's on the PC, the game's entire premise is built around a slowly rising suspense, followed by an in-your-face jump scare. Say what you will about it, people loved that series.
That was the first thing I thought of when I started Emily Wants To Play. I assumed this would be similar experience, perhaps one that was more mobile, but otherwise largely inspired by its contemporaries. Oh how wrong I was.
Simple Yet Effective
The first thing you'll notice about Emily Wants To Play is that the graphics aren't incredibly detailed like many of the mainstream games we're used to. Even so, the simple graphics do plenty to convey the setting.
You play as a pizza delivery guy on his last stop of the night. It's late, almost midnight in fact, and you've arrived at your last stop. When no one answers the door, you step inside. The door shuts behind you and the games begin.
Why the pizza guy didn't just leave is beyond me. I can only assume he's on his last strike at work and he can't afford to come back without payment yet again. While the game doesn't explain why you've felt the need to barge into someone's house, you quickly pay the price for doing so.
You're able to explore for a brief period of time and find various notes throughout the rooms of the home. There are also tape recorders which offer a glimpse into the story and specifically into the tragic tale of the titular Emily character.
I won't spoil anything here, but it's an interesting tale worthy of the horror setting. Not incredibly complex, mind you, but it does seek to explain the terrors happening around you. My biggest problem with the story here is that you'll find a hard time experiencing it.
After about five or six minutes, the clock strikes midnight and your game with Emily begins. Once this happens, you'll probably be too occupied with trying to survive, and you'll forget about chasing down anymore story.
The game's insane pace and quick playtime don't give it much room to breathe, and that means that the story will be left untold for many. The only way around this is to explore while being hunted as the game doesn't end until you've survived all that it has to throw at you.
Not Your Average Murderous Dolls
The main enemies in Emily Wants To Play are her dolls. Unfortunately she has very poor taste in dolls. One of them is downright creepy, another is a twisted clown, and the third looks like Slappy from Goosebumps. I would never have any of these dolls in my home, and I would have said that long before playing this game.
As each hour passes in the game (about six minutes in real time), a new enemy is introduced. The first few times I met my sudden and terrifying demise, I was convinced it was merely random and I had no way of controlling the situation.
Luckily I soon learned that there's more to this game than meets the eye. Each doll has a unique behavior that can be used to track them. What's more, each of them can be foiled and sent away for a brief amount of time as you try to survive.
The whiteboard in the game's kitchen will try to steer you the wrong way, so don't believe what it says. Other than that, I will let you figure out how to master these dolls. Sufice to say, you won't survive until you've figured out what their weakness is.
If you manage to survive until the last hour, you'll get to play with Emily herself. Sweet mother of all that is terrifying, she is one scary villain. If you manage to beat her at her own game, you'll finish the experience.
All-in-all it only lasts about thirty minutes from beginning to end, but if you're like me that time will be a lot longer since you'll constantly die or just quit out of sheer terror. At a mere $5, this game is quite the little gem, especially if you want to scare the living daylights out of your friends.
The Fear is Real
Emily Wants To Play is simple but also deceptively complex. While the graphics and the gameplay are bare bones, the strategies you'll need to survive the night are fiendishly clever. Once you've finished it, there's not much to go back for, and the story can be hard to grab while you're trying to surive.
Even so, passing this around a group of friends makes for some scary fun, and there's no denying the chill that runs down your back when one of the dolls giggles menacingly behind you. For the low entry-free, I'd give Emily's game a try. Just don't expect it to be a relaxing experience.
Final Score: 7.0/10
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date - 8/12/16